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Navigating Transitions in Unpredictable Times with Erica Williams Simon

Erica Williams Simon

Making a career pivot can be scary and paralyzing, especially when events transpire that force an unexpected transition.

Covid-19 has left many with lost jobs and time to reflect and reevaluate life and priorities. Others are struggling to succeed at remote work with a disrupted structure and, in many cases, no available childcare.

In this episode, Erica Williams Simon will draw on her personal experiences to share practical strategies to help you shut out the noise, overcome fear of the unknown and identify your next step. Learn how to navigate transition in times of uncertainty, steps you can implement immediately to pivot now and ways to effectively communicate your story.

“There is no yellow brick road anymore, if there ever was one. And so, the idea that you can talk and plan and think your way into your dream life is just unrealistic because the world is so unpredictable,” she said. “What you have to do is take steps and then put your finger up, check the wind like Moana, and see what’s happening and how am I feeling and where am I going.Erica Williams Simon

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This Month’s Guest:

ERICA WILLIAMS SIMON is a social critic, author, host and CEO of Sage House, a company that creates spaces and content to surface wisdom about “who we are and how we want to live.” Most recently the former Washington politico and lifelong civil and human rights activist was head of The Creator’s Lab at Snapchat, a first of its kind program that developed inspirational experiences for a global network of young storytellers and creators. The self-described professional question asker is an accomplished moderator and interviewer. She is host of the popular podcast The Call, creator and host of the Rosario Dawson produced digital talk show The Assembly, and author of the book You Deserve the Truth (Simon & Schuster). She has been featured on The Today Show, O Magazine, and the Washington Post and is a frequent TV commentator. She recently moderated conversations with the co-founders of theSkimm at the PA, TX, and Watermark Conferences for Women; she also gave a standalone workshop at the 2020 Watermark Conference for Women in San Jose. @missewill

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as co-host of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


 

Additional Resources:

Website: Erica Williams Simon

Read the book: You Deserve the Truth

Hear from more great Conferences for Women speakers in our new podcast, Best Breakouts

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Posted in Career Choices, Embrace the Unknown, Life on Your Terms, Transitions, Podcasts Tagged , |

Why You May Be Better Equipped to Navigate Today’s Changes Than You Think

natural haired black woman smiling while looking away onto the street and thinking

If you’re like many people these days, you’ve been dealing with change as you never did before—changes that you didn’t seek out as the next positive step in your career or personal life but had thrust on you by outside circumstances.

But here’s a little good news:

The skills you need to deal with today’s unexpected changes are the same as the skills you likely have already tapped to create positive changes in your life. In other words, you may be a bit more prepared for the turmoil of 2020 than you think.

“I think the real difference between this type of transition and one initiated by your own desire is just in how you approach it,” Erica Williams Simon says in the newest episode of Women Amplified. “It’s about attitude,” the author of You Deserve the Truth: Change the Stories that Shaped Your World and Build a World-Changing Life, says.

“If the life that you thought you were living no longer exists, there’s a moment for grief, a moment to recognize that you weren’t expecting to have to make a shift here. But once you get there, however you get there, you have the power to determine your direction,” she says.

William Simons is host and CEO of Sage House, a company that creates spaces and content to surface wisdom about “who we are and how we want to live.” She is also using this moment to encourage women to make decisions that align with their needs but also their values, passions, desires, and vision for life.

Some years ago, Simon recognized that she was “successful” by most standards. She was listed on several “30 under 30″ lists as a rising political star and TV commentator. But she wasn’t happy. So, she quit and dove into a period of exploration that helped her understand that there were certain cultural narratives that shaped her idea of what it means to be successful; but they had nothing to do with what she wanted out of life.

Since then, she has been on a mission to help others understand the stories that shape their lives and create new ones that lead to the life they actually want— encouraging women to ask questions, such as: How does it make me feel when I use it? What am I seeking? What validation does it bring me? What is the impact? Does the impact match up with my vision for my life?”

This often takes a lot of experimentation, she says—and, as these times make clear, the need and willingness to pivot and pivot again.

“There is no yellow brick road anymore, if there ever was one. And so, the idea that you can talk and plan and think your way into your dream life is just unrealistic because the world is so unpredictable,” she said. “What you have to do is take steps and then put your finger up, check the wind like Moana [the character in the 2016 Walt Disney movie of the same name] and see what’s happening and how am I feeling and where am I going.

“I think that’s how you end up in the life that you want, which ultimately—and this is the mind-blowing part for me—may be different than what you think you want today. You only gain that perspective and that insight into what a new dream for yourself could be by living, by experimenting, and by doing.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Erica Williams Simon on Women Amplified.


More from the July 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Career Choices, Embrace the Unknown, Life on Your Terms, Transitions Tagged , |

A Futurist’s Predictions about the Coming World of Work

Lisa Bodell

In times as uncertain as these, there’s something calming about speaking with a futurist—someone who, as Lisa Bodell describes it, knows how to marry strategic planning with scenario planning about possible, probable and preferable futures.

So, here are three things Bodell, award-winning author and CEO of futurethink, are possible outcomes we will see in the post-COVID-19 world of work that the popular Conference for Women speaker shared in a recent interview:

1. More remote work

At the basic level, I think the office is going to change—not just physically but how we work. I think there will be more remote work because people have experienced it and realize they can do it. Employers will say it is about creating work-life balance but the real reason is employers will see it as cost-efficient.”

2. Less work-life balance

“The ugly side of more remote work is that people will work longer hours. The work-life boundary is going to go away. I am already working more.”

3. More re-invention—and stronger businesses

“I think there is going to be a lot of reinvention to come out of this.” While in ordinary times, people tend to resist change, Bodell says COVID-19 has forced us to embrace it and do things we never would have done.

I think what will come out of this is a stronger business. I know that sounds ironic but I think business will become more relevant and bigger problem-solvers because we are moving into comfort with change, and this time has really forced people to re-evaluate what they are doing.

Greater comfort with change, on the individual and organizational level, is what Bodell sees as the third phase of our adapting to life in a global pandemic.

First, many of us were plunged into fear and felt frozen. Then, we started to adapt, even as we felt exhausted from change. Now, she says, we are moving toward figuring out how to get stuff done and build businesses again.

Going forward, she adds: “Change will be the norm, and we will settle into that norm.”


More from the July 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance, Transitions Tagged , |

What Challenging Times Have Taught This Young Gender and Disability Advocate

Aria Mia Lomberti

In her young lifetime, Aria Mia Lomberti has faced more challenges than many of us.

In the third grade, she was taken out of school because her teachers were unable to accommodate that she was blind—or, more to the point, they forbid her from using a cane, saying she might trip other students; locked her in a room during recess; and permitted discrimination and bullying.

In middle school, she had an illness that caused memory loss and forced her to be on bedrest for two years.

Still, thanks to online learning and a supportive family, she went on to complete high school two years early and top of her class; graduated this year with a triple major from the University of Rhode Island; and was recently awarded a Fulbright to study in England, where she will travel alone this summer because her parents are in the high-risk category for COVID-19.

It’s a brief lifetime of experience that, coming from a wise young woman, offers unique insights into how to deal with change and challenge.

“Every time I look back on a transition in my life, I think there is a lot more to learn in retrospect than during the time of going through it,” said Lomberti, who has represented women with disabilities as a delegate at the U.N. International Human Rights Summit and spoken at the Massachusetts Conference for Women.

“So, I would like to encourage people to look at this period of time with a lot of focus. Pick a goal for each day, each week—something short-term—so you can see the fruits of your labor demonstrated to you,” she said.

Put another way, she added: “Do whatever you need to do to get through this challenging time. It will be easier looking back. You survive and eventually thrive.”

As for what she is learning from living through a global pandemic, Lomberti said: “So many people keep telling people my age that we have to be changemakers. I think that is really important and everybody can bring about change. But it is important to recognize that not everyone is going to bring about grandiose change.”

Her mother, for example, changed Lomberti’s world by stopping work to homeschool her and care for her through two years of bedrest—something no one outside her circle would be likely to see as world-changing.

“The concept of what it means to change the world needs to be flipped on its head,” Lomberti added. “Not everyone is going to be a future president or CEO. But you can change someone’s perspective for the better. You can influence your family or community for the better.


More from the July 2020 Newsletter

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Giving Voice to All with “Sing, Unburied, Sing” Author Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward

Get up close and personal with two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.

In this episode of Women Amplified, we explore writing as a vehicle to give a voice to others past and present. Ward’s powerful insights, however, go far beyond writing instruction. Her words serve as an important reminder that we have a responsibility to speak up and give voice to those who have been silenced or erased in whatever means of expression feels right for us.

Sharing her real-life experiences, Ward will not just teach you about the writing process, but will help you go deep within to find your voice and inspire you to use that voice for the good of all.

“I wanted people to see how growing up in that type of environment, growing up in poverty and as a black person and in the rural South, how that constrains your existence in certain ways. Because you never see people like us. Or back then, you never saw people like us portrayed in pop culture or living complicated lives in television or, I don’t know, or in literature. I wanted us to exist and I wanted us to be able to speak and to have voice and to have agency, and to assert that we are here and that we shouldn’t be confined to people’s ideas about us. But instead, we should be able to speak and to tell our stories and to show that our lives are just as complicated and just as complex and just as unique as everyone else’s.”Jesmyn Ward

 

NEW: Please take our first-ever listener survey! (We’re giving away free tickets to make it worth your while!)

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This Month’s Guest:

JESMYN WARD is a novelist, memoirist and essayist. She is a MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner and has been hailed as the standout writer of her generation. In 2017, she became the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction—joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth, and John Updike. Ward’s stories are largely set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up and still lives. Her novel Salvage the Bones was winner of the 2011 National Book Award. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, depicts what Publishers Weekly calls “a world full of despair but not devoid of hope” in the aftermath of natural disaster. Ward’s memoir, Men We Reaped, delves into the five years of Ward’s life in which she lost five young men—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that follows poor people and people of color. The book won the Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Ward is the also the editor of the critically acclaimed anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, which NPR named one of the Best Books of 2016. A singular Southern odyssey that strikes at the heart of life in the rural South, Sing, Unburied, Sing, earned Ward a second National Book Award in 2017. It was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2017 by The New York Times and Time, and was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize.

She teaches creative writing at Tulane University in New Orleans. In 2016, she won the Strauss Living award, given every five years by the American Academy of Arts & Letters for literary excellence. In 2018, she was recognized among Time‘s 100 Most Influential People. Ward is currently working on two new books: a novel for adults set in New Orleans at the height of the American slave trade, and a young adult novel about a Black girl from the South with supernatural powers. Ward received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she won five Hopwood Awards for her fiction, essays, and drama. She held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University from 2008-2010, and served as the Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi the following year. Ward’s latest book is Navigate Your Stars. @jesmimi

 

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @celesteheadlee


 

Additional Resources:

Website: Jesmyn Ward, Author

Read the books: Navigate Your Stars | Sing, Unburied, Sing | Salvage the Bones | Men We Reaped

Hear from more great Conferences for Women speakers in our new podcast, Best Breakouts

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Posted in Career Choices, Communication Skills, Life on Your Terms, Podcasts Tagged , |

How to Be Brave, Not Perfect with Reshma Saujani

Laysha Ward interviewing Reshma Saujani for Women Amplified podcast

In this special episode, Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, talks with guest host Laysha Ward, executive vice president and chief external engagement officer for Target, about her new book, Brave, Not Perfect. 

This conversation took place before the outbreak of COVID-19. But we’re airing it now because it clearly speaks to the challenges many of us face today. Tune in for practical advice and inspiration from Reshma to help you navigate away from the pull of perfectionism, which will only make you more anxious, and toward a life that is bolder, braver, and ultimately happier. Read More

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Posted in Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance, Life on Your Terms, Transitions, Podcasts Tagged , |

Two Important Personal Qualities for Navigating Economic Downturns

Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky, the financial editor for NBC’s TODAY, once conducted a large study, in partnership with Merrill Lynch and Harris Interactive, to identify what separated people who were successful—in a wide range of financial situations—from those who were not.

As you might have guessed, saving and having a financial plan was part of the answer. But so was being optimistic and resilient, Chatzky said in a recent conversation.

And, those are the skills we need now—and can cultivate now, she said.

“You can become a more optimistic person if you want to be. One way is to keep track of good things on a daily basis. Keep a gratitude journal or a happiness journey. You have to show yourself that good things do happen, even in bad times.”

As for resilience: “That boils down to control what you can and let go of the rest. You can’t control what others do. You can control what we do.” Likewise, you may not be able to entirely control your income but you can focus on controlling your expenses.

Keeping Perspective Also Helps

“If you have long-term time horizon and are not going to use your money [in the stock market] for the next five, 10, or more years, then take a deep breath and try not to obsess about the financial news,” said Chatzky who has been a financial writer since 1986 and witnessed at least four down-turns before.

“Continue to put money into your 401K and have confidence that based on history we will come back from this. American companies are good at what they do and will figure out how to come back.”

If you need money in the short term, think about where you can get it where it is going to cost you the least in terms of interest, taxes or penalties. That may mean tapping an emergency fund or home equity loan if those are options for you. Taking a hard look at your budget to eliminate unnecessary costs is also, of course, always a good move.

And, while it’s true that the markets don’t like uncertainty, and nobody knows how long this downturn will last, Chatzky sees another side to the story.

“The story I am telling myself is that when I watch Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “I am confident he is a smart man and people like him will figure this out. Figuring it out in my mind means getting a handle on the health crisis.”

“We have to get a handle on the health crisis to get a handle on economic crisis. And, I believe that even though we don’t know a lot about what’s happening in terms of how long this is going to last and overall economic impact, we are seeing proposals coming from Washington and actions being taken. Day by day, it seems to me that we are moving in the right direction to get this under control.”

In short, Chatzky said: “If you are optimistic about the future of this country, and I am still optimistic, you have to tell yourself that we will eventually get to the right answers and get on back course.”

To learn more, visit Jean Chatzky’s Her Money, a new digital media company focused on improving the relationships women have with money.


More from the April 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Financial Fitness Tagged , |

If You’re Worried About Money, Think About This

young woman expressing a perplexed look on her face while examining monthly bills and account balances

Sometimes, one simple shift in thinking can help us know that, whatever the challenge before us, we’ll figure it out. This week, economist and Conference for Women speaker Teresa Ghilarducci provides that reassurance on our latest episode of Women Amplified.

Here it is: If you’re worried about money, think about your future self, and take action that supports that self—not the fearful self that may be activated in this moment.

Fear triggers chemicals in your brain that will make you want to do something to blast that fear away now. But those actions may not be in your long-term best interest.

So, what should you do—especially if you’re dealing with a loss of income or feeling rocked by the volatility in the stock market?

“You have to do something, but you have to do something for your medium-term and long-term self,” says Ghilarducci, a professor of economics at the New School for Social Research in New York City.

Focusing on the future, instead of this more anxious moment, will help you take charge. And from that more empowered mindset, you will be better positioned to take constructive action—on what Ghilarducci says should be three priority areas:

  1. Spending. If you don’t have a budget, this is the time to set it up—and watch it carefully. Fortunately, discretionary spending for many items—from Starbucks to hair care—is down. And we just might discover how many impulse purchases we don’t truly care about, which could help keep expenses permanently down.
  2. Debt. If you have credit card debt, ask the company to suspend payment without extra interest for the next two months—and to lower your interest rate while they’re at it. If you have a mortgage, do the same thing: ask for a two-month suspension without any extra interest accruing.
  3. Investments. If you can, look at your 401k accounts and make sure you know how much more you need to save to get on target. And, says Ghilarducci, remember that your asset values will probably come back in a year and a half. So, be patient.

Tune in to hear the full conversation with Theresa Ghilarducci on the Conferences for Women podcast, Women Amplified.


More from the April 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Financial Fitness Tagged , |

How to Stay Meaningfully Connected

a cheerful young woman staying connected and chatting via laptop while enjoying a bite to eat on the balcony

During another crazy time in our world, Emily Morgan had a newborn and a husband suddenly out of work because of the financial crash of 2007-2008. She’d been working at the University of Pennsylvania but wanted to give remote work a try. Twelve years later, she is a successful entrepreneur who leads a team of 40—and an expert in the remote work that has suddenly become a reality for so many.

Here are five suggestions from Morgan, a Conference for Women speaker, about how to stay connected in meaningful ways and be a leader in times like this—followed by tips from the Conferences for Women team on how to make working at home work.

  • Create brief opportunities for everyone to see each other. Her entire team comes together over Zoom for 15 minutes once a week, with various team members taking a turn hosting. They cover core values, one positive development, organizational updates, shared learnings, and a story of values in action.
  • Offer small, more in-depth chances to connect. Morgan’s team is divided into packs of five to seven who meet on Zoom one hour a week where they have an opportunity to share—including, as she puts it, to “complain to and encourage”—one another. This, she says, helps create the culture they would have if working in the office together.
  • Think creatively about how you can support your team now. For example, she is organizing a virtual camp where volunteers teach topics that will aim to keep children engaged while their parents focus on work.
  • Establish clear boundaries and expectations. Being clear about metrics the team should be focused on over the next 30, 60 and 90 days. This helps everyone stay focused on priorities and know what they are accountable for.
  • Try to model calmness. Morgan says she meditates, limits her news intake, and reflects on whether how she is leading and acting is aligned with how she wants to see others act. “I don’t,” she adds, “want to be leading from a place of reaction.”

Morgan is the founder and CEO of Delegate Solutions, which offers premium-level virtual assistant services for entrepreneurs.


More from the April 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance Tagged , |

Creating Financial Health During Crisis

Teresa Ghilarducci

Although life has come to a screeching halt, concerns over money have not—financial fear and distress are at an all-time high.

Our latest episode of Women Amplified features economist and author Teresa Ghilarducci, who offers invaluable and actionable ways you can take control of your finances in the short-term and create long-term financial health. Learn sustainable daily habits to maximize your paycheck and savings, help you budget in crisis-mode, manage debt, and continue planning for retirement. Read More

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Posted in Financial Fitness, Podcasts, Women Amplified: A Podcast from the Conferences for Women Tagged , |

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